Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Nokomis area inspired mayor to originally move to Minneapolis

Posted on 26 March 2018 by calvin

By JAN WILLMS
The Nokomis neighborhood played a vital role in newly elected Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s (photo right) decision to move to this city.

“I remember racing in the Twin Cities Marathon in 2007,” Frey said in a recent interview. “It was a very competitive race.” It was around Mile 14 that he passed a leg of the race in the vicinity of Nokomis. “There was a beautiful bridge, and the sun was shining on the water. It was a spectacular fall day,” recalled Frey. He said he was running alongside another contestant, and that racer commented “My goodness. This is an extraordinary city.”

“It was this setting that first drew me to move here,” Frey said. He went on to take fourth place in the Pan American Games, graduating from law school at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and moving to the Twin Cities in 2009.

In 2013, he was elected as a City Council representative for the Third Ward and after one term on the Council made his bid for the mayoral race.

Now in his third month as mayor, Frey has said Minneapolis is a divided city.

“There are divisions between the police and communities of color, between businesses and activists,” he claimed. “There is a division within the DFL party. We need to be bridge builders,” he noted. “We have to be willing to listen and hear each other out.”

Considering what his biggest challenge as mayor will be, Frey cited the need for change. “We need to be the party for change….and we need unity,” he stated. But he admitted that change does not come easily. “The only thing hated more than the status quo is change,” he said.

Regarding education, Frey has said that a consistent partnership between the public schools and the city is not only desirable but essential. He said that in the past, the mayor and the school board would meet on a monthly basis and he would like to bring that collaboration back.

The achievement gap has been a factor in Twin Cities education for many years. Frey said he proposes to lessen that gap by starting to talk specifics. “It’s not enough to acknowledge it. We need clear action, focusing on policy itself,” he noted.

Frey is also a believer in the value of vocational education. “Having vocational training in our schools should not be the exception to the rule—it should be the rule, and the city has a role to play. I believe our schools should offer vocational training in welding, painting, glazing, and even coding. You can teach a 5-year-old to code and, by the time they have graduated, they have a direct pipeline to a living-wage job, whether or not they go on to college.”

Another issue facing the new mayor is the lack of affordable housing and homelessness in the metro. “Those two issues go hand-in-hand,” he said. “Affordable housing is at a crisis level. Everyone should have a home.”

Frey said homelessness ties directly into the lack of affordable housing. “We are perpetually recycling the homeless,” he said. He said the financial costs of keeping the homeless on the streets are three times as much as it would be to give them housing. “There are costs of institutions, incarceration and emergency care. We need affordable housing throughout the city,” Frey added.

He has cited the following vision for preserving and creating affordable housing units. Frey would like to dramatically increase funding for affordable housing and create more deeply affordable housing in areas with greater economic opportunities. He has stated he would like to increase the timeframe during which housing must be kept affordable and would like to build more affordable housing in wealthy and predominantly white neighborhoods. Frey promotes funding the purchase of at-risk affordable housing to keep it affordable, and he would like to seek an increase in funding the budget for public housing. He also wants to increase the stock of affordable owner-occupied multi-family housing and support green affordable housing.

Considering his success in winning the mayoral race as a newcomer to the city and after only one term as a City Council member, Frey attributed his win to a broad-based coalition that had a positive, forward-thinking message. A message that also promotes changing ideas.

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